- Confirmed judges under Biden include 100 women
- Senate confirmed district court nominees Kenly Kato and Julia Kobick
Nov 7 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden on Tuesday secured his 150th federal judicial appointment after the Democratic-led U.S. Senate voted to confirm two new judges in California and Massachusetts, a tally that includes a record-breaking 100 women named to the bench.
The Senate voted 51-46 to elevate U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenly Kato to a life-tenured district court judgeship in the Central District of California and 52-46 for Julia Kobick to join the federal bench in Massachusetts, where she worked under the state attorney general.
With those votes, Biden has secured Senate approval of more women to the federal bench than any other president in his first four-year term, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor.
“Two-thirds of the judges we have confirmed are women, redressing an imbalance that existed for centuries,” Schumer said.
In a joint memo, White House officials led by Ed Siskel, the White House counsel, called the confirmation of 150 life-tenured judges a “major milestone” and “just the start.”
They said the Democratic president had also “honored a core campaign promise, setting records when it comes to demographic and professional diversity of judicial appointees and ensuring that the federal Judiciary looks like the nation.”
The Senate has confirmed 98 judges who are people of color, including Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman justice, according to the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
Nearly half of the judges, 74, have been people who were public defenders or civil rights lawyers, according to the Leadership Conference, including Kato, a former public defender of Japanese descent, who since 2014 has served as a magistrate judge.
Kobick, a deputy state solicitor in the Massachusetts’ attorney general’s office, is a former clerk to liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in 2020, and had been a public school teacher before going to Harvard Law School.
Schumer said Senate Democrats were far from done confirming judges. Votes are teed-up on four more in the coming days.
Confirmations, though, have slowed compared to earlier in Biden’s tenure, imperiling his ability to match Republican former President Donald Trump’s 234 judicial appointments, which included three U.S. Supreme Court justices.
John Collins, a law professor at George Washington University who follows judicial nominations, said matching Trumps’ numbers was now “out of reach,” due to Biden inheriting only about half as many vacancies as Trump did and the need to negotiate with Republicans to fill many of the currently pending seats.
That’s because senators must return so-called “blue slips” supporting district court nominees from their states for them to advance, a Senate custom that Senator Dick Durbin, the Judiciary Committee’s Democratic chairman from Illinois, has stood by despite calls by progressive advocates to end it.
Of 63 vacancies without nominees, 41 are for district court judgeships in states with one or more Republican senators.
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Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston
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